Sunday, May 3, 2020

Octopussy (1983)

Octopussy is one of the more underrated Bond films. Perhaps it's due to the ridiculous title. Or maybe it's the lack of an awe inducing sequence. Even some of the lesser entries are remembered more if they have at least one great stunt. That's not meant to be a criticism of the film at all, director John Glen crafted a smooth narrative from start to finish, unconventional in a stealth sort of way. Moore's sixth outing as 007, the story makes light of his age, especially in a bittersweet scene with Miss Moneypenny as she's training her protege. 

A classic and even somewhat realistic Cold War plot involving a rogue Soviet General Orlov played by Steven Berkoff who made a career playing Russian bad guys (also a respected playwright) is scheming to break up N.A.T.O. and thereby cause a geopolitical earthquake in Europe. Bond traces some Faberge Eggs to the plot and discovers that Orlov is working in tandem with Afghan soldier of fortune Kamal Khan (Louis Jordan). Using two villains was a nice touch, changing the dynamic of what's expected in a Bond film. 007 is then led to a mysterious woman known as Octopussy (Maud Adams), an entrepreneur playing both sides. 

The tangled plot resembles From Russia With Love with its layers of intrigue. Even the stunts and fight scenes display a nice range from the grandiose to the tactile, such as Magda's (Kristina Wayborn) Rapunzel type inspired escape from Bond. A train chase and a climatic fight on an airplane deliver as premium action scenes. On location filming in Berlin and India also provided a scenic travelogue.

Octopussy grossed better than the competing Bond film Never Say Never Again. Released in June, it would earn sixth place in U.S. Box Office during the summer when Return of the Jedi dwarfed the competition. The theme by John Barry and performed by Rita Coolidge suited the textured and well worn tapestry of this late stage Moore entry. 


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